"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

11 June 2016

Ben Okri on the importance of storytelling

Ben Okri
(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
On the 23rd of August 2013, novelist Ben Okri gave a talk at the International School of Storytelling at Emerson College at Forest Row in England. That speech was later published in a small booklet entitled The Mystery Feast: Thoughts on Storytelling (2015). It's a wonderful collection of Okri's thoughts and feelings about the transformative power of storytelling and its importance in our salvation. I quote a typical passage below:

“No civilisation ever became great on knowledge alone. Indeed it is the imaginative dimension of civilisations which gives them distinction. What would ancient Greece be without its tragedians, its Parthenon, its Homeric epics? What would ancient Egypt be without its pyramids, its temples? Imagination dreams what that which knowledge makes real. It could be said that imagination is the porto-reality. A people can only create what they can imagine. If in some mysterious way we fall short of the ancients, it may be because we have long ceased to cultivate, to the highest degree, the fruits of the imagination, of the spirit. That despairing cry from the Bible should always haunt us. “For lack of vision my people perish.” . . .  How do we awaken imagination? How do we awaken vision? One of the ways, passed down to us with cunning simplicity by our ancestors, is storytelling.” 

Ben Okri, The Mystery Feast: Thoughts on Storytelling, “Under the Sun: a meditation on stories, notes to a modern storyteller” (Claireview Books Ltd, 2015, pp. 14-15).

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